Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-9 (49m)
Mathieu Castagnet dashed the hopes of a second consecutive home hero as he followed up his first round victory over Joe Lee with a performance full of attacking intent and incredible resilience against James Willstrop – epitomised when, at two-games up, he overturned a 3-8 deficit in the third game to reel off six consecutive points before taking the game, and the match, 11-6, 11-6, 11-9.
Traditionally a passive player who relies on his defensive and retrieval abilities to grind opponents down, Castagnet struck a different character on court against four-time champion Willstrop as he played with attacking intent throughout the match, utilising deceptive hold and stepping up the pace of the encounter at every opportunity to put Willstrop under pressure.
Willstrop was playing precise squash, with his trademark pinpoint drop shots a regular feature, but he couldn’t match Castagnet’s unrelenting physical style as he energy sapped at the mid points of each game, when he had been keeping level pace with the Frenchman, ultimately allowing Castagnet to push on and secure a deserved place in the last four to play Cameron Pilley.
In the third game Castagnet’s physical attributes were on full display as he fought back from 3-8 down to reel off six consecutive points before securing the game and the match.
Shot of the match
Willstrop played a wonderfully deceptive drop shot from deep on the forehand side at 7-2 in the third which could Castagnet could only watch with admiration.
Mathieu Castagnet: “The first two games were similar – it went to 5-5 or 6-6 and then he started to tire. In the third game, when he was 8-2 up he was playing very good but after a long rally I saw he was tired so I pushed as hard as I could to get back into the game and I’m very happy with that win.
“Recovery is so important now. Most of my game is based on my fighting spirit – if my recovery is good, I can be ready for every match and to fight on the court. We all train hard, 20-25 hours per week, and I’m trying to improve my technical skills and my fitness all the time.”
James Willstrop: “I did my best to try and break him down but I just didn’t get that many opportunities and when I did go short I wasn’t playing with the quality needed. He was playing some very tight squash and he made it very hard for me to break it up.
“He played very well and it was a very clean match and the crowd were fantastic.”